EPP · Shine: The Circles Quilt

Circles Block #8, EPP Sew-A-Long

Circles EPP Button

Circles Block 8_OPQuilt1

This is Circles Block #8 of my EPP Circles Block Sew-A-Long.

CirclesIt all started way up there on the really tall archway in the church in Ljubljana, Slovenia where I first spotted this lovely circle.

Circles Block_Ljubljana I just had to have it.  And my sweet husband helped me out by giving me Electric Quilt 7 for Christmas–the version that works on a Macinstosh.

Circle 8 block_EQ drawn

I got to work and failed miserably.  Then I got back to work and learned a few more things, and a few more things after that and above is the result. Since I have a lot of experience on QuiltPro (which I still use) I didn’t find it hard to figure things out, Googling for specific instructions when I became stuck.  I went on to design all the rest of the circles, completing the set of twelve, but you’ll have to wait for them, as I haven’t stitched them up and I like to do that before giving you the patterns.


The free patterns are now returning (Red, White & Blue version is above).  I request that you not distribute them, but send people here to this website to get them.  Click to download a PDF file: 

SHINE Block 8 pattern_opquilt

Please remember to set your printer settings to 100% and check the little scale square included on the pattern.  It should measure 1″ in size. Illustrations below are with the OLD version of the pattern, so it may vary from what’s included now.

Circles Block 8_pattern fits onto circle

I must admit to being a bit nervous about this new process, so I drew up a circle and then tried to fit the pieces into it, making sure that they were all the same size as the other circles.

Circle Blockk 8_New EQ patternAnd then I didn’t like how the pattern looked, so I went and redrew it (you have the latest version).

Color Variation 2_OPQuilt

Remembering the nightmare of trying to get all those points to fit into the center on a previous block, I added a small circle, and changed the pattern to the one you have now:

Circle Block 8_cutting out pattern

For this project, I used 24 lb. paper, a bit heavier than the usual copy paper (which can either be 18-lb. or 20-lb)  Print off the patterns, then stack them carefully.  Staple the pages together around the pieces, not through them.  As you cut, using either scissors or an old non-fabric rotary cutter, the pieces will be free of the stapled background when cut out. I don’t usually staple more than four pages together.  Note: Even if the bottom papers slip slightly, and don’t appear to be cut exactly on the line, the patterns are still accurate.

Circle Block 8_layout of fabric

Laying out the fabrics. This was the easiest one yet.

Circle Block 8_small points trick

I also used the technique of seaming together my two fabrics, then cutting out the pattern piece, lining up the center lines.  I’m not a purist–I don’t need everything to be hand-sewn and doing this step this way will make your circle more accurate and save you a lot of headache.

Circle Block 8_trimming sa

Trim out the seam allowances at the tip.

Circle Block 8_layout of pieces

I sometimes get confused whether the pieces should go printed side up, or printed side down, so my usual recommendation is if they are bi-directional — meaning it doesn’t matter — then it doesn’t matter.  But if you need your yellow on one side and your gold on the other and you don’t want to have to figure it out, then put the printed side down, for that’s how you see it.

Circle Block 8_using a glue stick

I tried a new-to-me technique this time: glueing down the seam allowances.  I had purchased the narrow glue stick for the The New Hexagon Millefiore Quilt Along and thought it was time to learn a few new tricks.

Circle Block 8_glue tecnique

I’d read that it was not a good idea to go all the way to the edge of the paper when glueing, that it was better to leave a small bit unglued.  Then I just smoothed the seam allowance up over the glue.  It was easier to keep the pieces centered (sometimes I put a dot of glue on the piece before putting it down, but not always) and I love how they look.  (And it saves time and energy and my hands!)

Circle Block 8_pieces all glued laid out

I laid out all the pieces and I liked what I saw.  With the glue stick, I wasn’t too worried about re-doing any pieces as it was so quick and easy.

Circle Block 8_beginning piecing

I first sewed the gold/yellow together, then added the blue diamondish-square (I labeled it as a square, but it is slightly wonky).

Circle Block 8_middle of piecing

Then I added two blue sections to that one, then started joining them all together.

Circle Block 8_interim piecing

Sometimes there is some interesting bends that go on while working.  Every once in a while a seam allowance would work itself loose from the paper but I treated it like an envelope: I licked the paper and stuck back the seam allowance.

Circle Block 8_interim2 piecing

Circle Block 8_interim3 piecing

The above photographs show the steps in how I sewed this together: pieces, then small sections, moving along to the larger sections.

Circles Block 8_back with papers

Ah.  The best sight in EPP-land: all the papers on the pieces, from the back.

Circle Block 8_papers popping out

Time for the $64,000 question: can you get the glued papers off the circle block? Yes. Here you can see they are starting to pop off already.  Sliding a seam ripper or a stiletto point between the fabric and the paper can also help loosen stubborn spots.

In my new project, I am now working with the cardstock versions of the papers for the Millefiore quilt and I’m sure the answer is the same, but they do seem to stick more to the rougher surface of the cardstock, with no papers trying to escape, like mine are, above.

Circle Block 8_detail center circle

I like to appliqué on my center circle as I think it is a cleaner business (shown here from the back).  I use really teeny stitches and stitch length, putting way more stitches in there than I do for regular appliqué, as it stabilizes the whole block and anchors the center.

Circle Block 8_detail background

As usual for these blocks, cut a 14 1/2″ square, fold it into fourths and press lightly so the creases can serve as registration marks for centering your circle.  Here’s your choice: point at the 12 o’clock mark. . .



. . . or not?  Try them back and forth until you settle on one.  There is no wrong or right — just what is best for your block.

Circles Block 8_EPP_OPQuilt

The block looks more relaxed with all those papers out.  I loved fussy-cutting the X in the aqua, and love-love-love this circle.

EPP 8 Circle Blocks_OPQuilt

So here they all are–aren’t they fine looking?  Until next month, happy EPP-ing! If you finish any of your circles, send them over and I’ll do a post.

Circles Block 8_OPQuilt1


A Lovely Time at Road to California 2015

St Nick and Me

This was my big weekend at Road to California where I got to see three of my quilts hanging at the Road to California quilt show.  I enjoyed every minute of it.  Above, St. Nicholas and I are whooping it up.

St Nick Hanging

When I wasn’t there checking on him, he hung out with two other really cool Christmas quilts.

Sol Lewitt and Me

Here I am with Sol Lewitt, who so graciously provided an idea for me to work with in cloth.

Sol Lewitt hanging

He was tucked into a corner among the Modern Quilts — a lovely home.

Lollies and Me

After seven tries the nice lady who took my photo finally got it.  Here I am, coaching her from behind my plastered on smile, “The white button on the screen. . . the white button on the screen.”

Lollies hanging

All those Lollypop Trees were on a side aisle, which was consistently busy.  I had many nice conversations with people who stopped by when I was standing there.  One pair of women had made the St. Nicholas quilt, asked me who my quilter was.  “Me!” I said.  “Then that’s the difference,” one said.  “I sent mine out for an edge-to-edge long arm quilting design and it just doesn’t look as good.”  We had a nice conversation about the lovely green and white blocks from all my Mid-Century Modern Bee Mates.

Good Heart Quilters Road 2015I went Thursday, Friday and Friday night all my local quilting group — the Good Heart Quilters — came to a Road Potluck at my house.  After we finished, we sat around the table chatting, trading stories and enjoying each other’s company.  We had some hard news: one of our members starts chemo next month for her newly discovered cancer and I was quite touched by the offers of help that came willingly, to assist her in any way she needed.  I sat and listened, looked at these beautiful women and felt incredibly grateful to be surrounded by such wonderful quilting friends.  They have cheered me on, and celebrated my successes.  I can’t imagine my life without them.

I’ve put a TON of photos up on Instagram, if you want to scroll through them (some aren’t mine, some are).  I hope to get some more up in a week or so, but first, I need to address the upcoming Four-in-Art challenge and get that going.  The deadline is in about a week!



January’s Odds-N-Ends


One of the Christmas gifts I gave was a Snap Bag, which uses lengths of metal measuring tape to keep it closed.  I had wanted to try these snap bags forever, so I bought a cheap-o metal tape measure in 3/4″ size (and also one in 1/2″ size) and went to town.  It was really fun.  One tutorial that I looked at was from Wilma’s World.  But I tended to follow was Paulett’s at Sweet P Quilting and Creations, as she had placed batting in hers.


The one that that I found confusing was how to place the measuring tape.  So here it the answer: like this: ) (  with the curvy sides towards each other.  [NOT like this: ( )]

UPDATE: I was referred to the Gourmet Quilter’s video where she places the tape exactly opposite.  Before trying to decide I’d read probably 20 tutorials on the web and watched a couple of videos and had tried to decipher it from that.  Rose Smith has a video where she places it exactly opposite (like I’d done).  However, I like how the one I made fits together, so I give up!  Maybe it doesn’t matter which way you place it.

I put the little tabs there to help pull it open, but really, that measuring tape made it pretty hard to get open, so I just used my fingers.  I wouldn’t use the 3/4″ tape on anything smaller than a finished size of 6″ by 9″ or thereabouts.  Use the narrower 1/2″ tape.  I expected it to be hard to cut with my old scissors from the kitchen drawer, but really it cuts easily, so I don’t think you need tin snips or anything heavy duty.  DO use the tape on the ends (I used duct tape) to protect it from poking through.


This past summer my husband and I did some traveling to Croatia and we picked up a ton of postcards from the Naive Art Museum in Zagreb, Slovenia.  He kept talking about trying to find a way to display them, so for Christmas I made him this bulletin board.

I went to my local hardware store and asked for “acoustic ceiling tiles,” when come as a unit of two.  I cut it in half so I’d have two squares.  How did I cut them?  The man who helped me recommended a steak knife with serrated edges, but I found a linoleum blade on our work bench (it’s kind of like a Pirate’s Chest out there–you’ll never know what treasures you’ll find) and made that work.  After cutting I sanded the edges to smooth out any bumps from the cutting, then hid one behind the laundry room shelves in case I needed to make him another (in case he didn’t like the fabric I chose).

IMG_1452I placed the ceiling tile face down on some batting, then tacked that in four places to keep it on.  My husband’s favorite color is blue, and all the postcards had a bluey color in them (wonder why?) so I chose this muted leaf print.  Really, the limiting factor was the colors of ribbon at JoAnn’s.  You think it wouldn’t be that hard to go and get a couple of spools of ribbon, but those of you who have to shop there know it’s an Eye-Rolling Experience at best.

I had ironed the heck out of my fabric so it was flat flat flat, and then I began the process of stapling it down.  I cut the batting out of the corners, then carefully folded and stapled the fabric down, trying to create the flattest corners I could.

I criss-crossed the ribbons at even intervals, stapling them down as I went.  At the hardware store I had purchased some furniture tacks (or brads) and hammered them in where the ribbons crossed.  On Christmas morning, I don’t think he was all that crazy about the color/fabric choices I’d made, so I showed him the extra and said when he decided what he really wanted, I’d make him another one.  Within a week, he’d propped this up against the wall in his study, the postcards artfully arranged (better than I’d done, above).  Within another week, it was propped up on his chest of drawers in our bathroom, where I thought it might go.  He and I talk about it often, so I’m guessing it’s a keeper!

New Classroom

For those of you who are following the saga of my classroom, here is the new one.  It’s dimmer than this photo shows, and is complete with a “stage” where I stand and blather on about Critical Thinking.  It’s a step up from the old one, but still not as great as a regular classroom.  And I had NINE students add on Wednesday.  Nine.  Where were all these students when everyone was registering before the semester started?

Pineapple SpearsAfter Brenda commented on eating pineapple spears (last post about my pineapple quilt–I’ve got to get a name for that one), I found myself wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s, looking for pineapple spears.  Now if it would only help me finish that quilt.

Button for QuiltShowsI’m going to QuiltCon in a month (a MONTH!!) and I’d read about people and their buttons.  So I worked up this incredibly ornate design with my magnificent Photoshop skills (*cough*) and sent it off to WackyButtons.com to make me some cute little one-inch buttons to trade.  When I get them, I’ll figure out some giveaway so you can win one.  In the meantime, I’m finishing up my next Circles Block post (which will be early) and hoping to finish up my still-to-be-started Four-in-Art quilt, although I do have a sketch.  That’s progress!


Four-in-Art Art Quilt Group, with reveal coming on February 1st


Limping Along, Pineapple-Style

Pineapple Quilt Before

Take 1 (really it’s about Take 23).  While it’s fun to look at, I think it looks like I stuck the quilt in a light socket or something.  The petal/leaf things are like right on top of the pineapples and those tropical fruits need some breathing room.  But I’m loathe to mess with those borders, so I try something different.

Falling Pineapple Leaves

What if I organized the leaves by color: cool in the middle, warm on the outside?  Still not liking it.  This is a Truth-in-Advertising shot, showing how I load up the edges of my pin wall with related and unrelated junk.  Can’t help myself.

Pineapple quilt Borders Flipped

Leaves off.  Flip borders, so narrower light part (next to the green vine) is out and wider is next to the pineapples.

Pineapple Borders

More borders cut and sewn on.  I’m constructing the borders separately from the pineapple centers.  I made the fatal error of hand-appliquing on the vine.  I wanted to see what would happen if it were sewn down–it was really puckering before (it’s fine now).  But does that mean I have to hand appliqué all those sprightly leaves onto the thing?  (AAAAGH!)

Pineapple Quilt leaves

Poking the leaves/petals/whatever back on.  Trying to adjust for balance in size, number and color.  I feel obsessive.

PIneapple Quilt in Process Jan12

I think I’m pretty much there with the arrangement.  By flipping the borders, it gave the flowers more room, so they are not crowding the pineapple blocks anymore.  I’ll trim down the outer borders, but just that little bit gave the design some breathing room.

Classroom Corner A

I started back to school on Monday.  This is Corner A of my classroom, a windowless affair with a high distraction rating.  The computer is behind that roll top desk, next to the TV with the dinosaur.  Doesn’t every college classroom have a dinosaur?

Classroom Corner B

This is Classroom Corner B, with split personality model.  We are in the Respiratory Therapy classroom.  As Rachel noted on Instagram: “At least she’s wearing a shirt.”  Yep.

Chocolate from Around the WorldSo when I got home, even before we’d had dinner, I’d eaten most of Tanzania.  This lovely little box of chocolate is from Trader Joe’s and was a stocking stuffer gift from my husband.  They only carry this at Christmas, so I feel lucky to have it just for such emergencies as this.  Sao Tome may be gone after my next class.  I’m thinking I might have to take it with me and put it in the car, to have it as I drive home through the LA bumper-to-bumper traffic.  Yes, I might.


Resolutions vs. Being the Best Self I Can Be


from *here*

 I read this article, “Resolving to Create a New You”  in the New York Times last week.  I cut it out, kept it by my sewing machine and read it all week long.  I read it again today and finally, finally, I think I understand it (the author, Ruth Chang, is a professor of philosophy at Rutgers University).  It helped that I listened to Ms. Chang’s TED Talk about  “How to Make Hard Choices” (take the time–it’s enlightening).

SeptDec2014 Goals

Resolutions, even those quilting resolutions of Finish A-Longs and their sort, have a problem because basically we are trying to (as Ms. Chang put it) “to steel our wills to do what we already know we should be doing.”  Yes, I know I should finish Quilt XYZ and yes, I still make myself a list of quilts every quarter and hang them on my cupboard door.  Sometimes they are helpful, like when I don’t feel like doing much.  It can give a goal and a direction.  But I have two quilts I have had on that list every quarter for the past two years.  They are hard quilts.  I don’t quite remember what I want to do with the “Good Luck Quilt,” one that I dreamed up but now have no idea what I mean, nor do I know what I want to make with the fabric that I spontaneously bought in a stack from an online quilt shop one summer’s day (and which I call “The Mexcian Day of the Dead Quilt”).  Each quilt has its appealing qualities.  Each is a quagmire.  And every quarter I resolve to finish them.

Layer Cakes Jelly Rolls

Ms. Chang says instead of looking at resolutions as just another set of  Things To Do, we should view these as opportunities “to create ourselves anew.”  Each of those hard choices between two sets of alternatives, gives us a chance to “make ourselves the authors of our own lives. Instead of being led by the nose by what we imagine to be facts of the world, we should instead recognize that sometimes the world is silent about what we should do.”  Nobody cares if I ever start my Good Luck Quilt.  Or cut into that layer cake or jelly roll.  And even if you do make it and post it on some blog and someone has rounded up prizes for what you finish, you aren’t winning a prize because a quilt has taught you a new skill.  You aren’t winning a prize because you spent more time on the borders that you did on the quilt (like my current tortuous creative project).  You are only winning a prize because you finished something and your name was selected by Mr. Random Number Generator. And if you ask me,  an online app that can “lead us around by the nose” is probably NOT the best way to develop yourself as a quilter.

Instead, Ms. Chang suggests, by making hard choices, “we not only create value for ourselves but we also (re)create ourselves. . . . to reflect on what kind of person we can commit to being when making those choices.”  So whether it be challenging yourself in a new quilting endeavor, or resolving to become the kind of person who would rather go on a walk than eat a brownie, or the kind of person who can set aside the digital screens of her life in order to concentrate on the small people near her, if we can commit to that task, generating our OWN reasons for choosing that direction, we “make ourselves the authors of our own lives.”   We won’t just make another “Scrap Vomit” quilt because everyone else is.  While we might choose to use up our scraps, we’ll do it in a way that suits us, that refines us, that contributes a little bit of something to the inside of us.

She ends her article by saying: “So in this new year, let’s not do the same old, same old; let’s not resolve to work harder at being the selves that we already are. Instead, let’s resolve to make ourselves into the selves that we can commit to being.”

Dive into the quilt quagmire and make that hard quilt.  It may take you three months or three years, but you will have become a different and better self for having tried it and finished.  Use that pattern in the drawer, but make it up in fabrics you envision.  Go ahead and make a quilt that mimics the one online, but make it better.  Make it different.

Make it yours.

Colorwheel Blossom_inner quilting


Pineapple Quilt Borders: Progress?

Pineapple Blocks laid out

I laid out all the pineapple blocks on a grey, cloudy, rainy day, but their brightness and color made them fun to work with (Yucky photographs, though.)  I thought about all my bee mates and was sending out Good Karma over the universe, thanking them for their work.

Pineapple Quilt Borders

But how to get a border on this thing?

Come A-Round, full SM

I remembered my other quilt with a bold colorful center, Come A-Round, and decided to mimic that idea.  This quilt, designed by the Piece O-Cake ladies, is one of my favorites.  I remembered that they have terrific border ideas, so after a Google search, found Daisies and Dots, a free pattern, which also had a great idea for a border.

Cutting Wave Border

I sewed the border pieces together in two sections, then overlaid them and cut a wavy line with my rotary cutter, freehand.  I tried to make sure the seams were kind of matched up.

Wave Border

I put RST and matched up those seams and sewed a 1/4″ seam.

Bias Vine on Wavy Quilt Border

I made gallons of 3/8″ bright green bias tubing and pinned it over the seams.

Leaf shapes on Freezer Paper

Now to cut the leaves.  I thought the free pattern looked a little small for what I wanted.  Besides I already had a baggie full of reject leaves from the center of my Colorwheel Blossom quilt, so I started with that leaf, and morphed it down to make five shapes. (I don’t throw away appliqué shapes.  Well, hardly ever!)  I traced that shape onto plastic, cut out and traced the shapes onto freezer paper, doing it in batches.

Laying out leaves2

Applique leaf freezer paper







Then I cut out many colors, using the templates for tracing, and am now ironing the leaves to the freezer paper (shiny side up).


Laying out Leaves in Quilt BorderAnd here’s where I am this morning.  I had to actually do school work all day yesterday, so didn’t get time to work on this.  I am just throwing them up there now for “cluster placement,” and plan to do some fine tuning of color, shape and arrangement later.

Simone Wins

So as you all well know, the Random Number Generator hates me and I hate it.  So I went to a different website and entered in all your names, and hit “Pick a Random Name.”  Which it did.  Simone, I’ll be in touch–you are the winner!  And thank you all for entering and all your lovely comments.  I’m working my way through my email notes and will get them off to you this weekend, after school orientation, syllabus writing and plotting my Course Calendar.  I feel like this quilting community is my real joy and delight in life, in terms of an occupation.  The other one is to get quilt fabric money.

Just kidding.  I love to teach, and this gearing up at the beginning of the semester is a pretty normal thing for us all to be doing.  Hats off to my other teacher-readers out there!